Most of us at the Ometer grew up on 80’s thrash metal, so the genre holds a special place in our hearts. While we generally agree that nothing tops the 80’s classics, there are plenty of newer bands killing it in the 21st century. Municipal Waste, Gama Bomb, Havok, and Power Trip are hopefully on everyone’s radars by now. We’d like to shine some light on a handful of stellar thrash albums that we don’t see getting enough love on The Internets.
These guys went from ripping it up in the St. Louis music scene to signed to eOne Records in just over a year on the strength of their independently-released debut Starving Out the Light. It’s a tight, angry blend of modern thrash with some black metal tinges, anchored by vocalist Aaron Akin’s shrieks and Trevor Johanson’s intricate riffing. The band has released two records since, both of which were produced by Erik Rutan, but their debut finds them at their hungriest.
There was some disbelief among staff writers when I threw Australia’s Teramaze out as a band worthy of inclusion on this list. “Teramaze aren’t a thrash band. They’re progressive metal.” Well, they may be prog now, but if you need evidence that Teramaze can do straight up Bay Area-style thrash with the best of them, Anhedonia is exhibit A. This album captures the early 90’s thrash sound, during which all those scrappy 80’s bands had become expert players and songwriters—think Twisted Into Form-era Forbidden. This is a “mature” thrash album, just before the band would evolve into a more progressive act (though follow-up Esoteric Symbolism is even better, and still retains some thrash roots)
Pittsburgh’s Mantic Ritual sounds a bit like Kill ‘em All-era Metallica, if James and Lars had decided to play everything twice as fast. The songs are brimming with hooks and absolutely killer guitar solos. ‘One by One’, ‘Black Tar Sin’, ‘Murdered to Death’, ‘Panic’, and ‘Double The Blood’ are all essential thrash tunes that feel like they’ve been around forever, and the rest of the album barely lets up at all. It's baffling that a band this talented never made another album. If Firesideometer ever does a Top Five One and Done Bands list, expect to see Mantic Ritual near the top.
One could be forgiven for dismissing F.K.Ü. (Freddy Krueger's Underwear) as just another jokey modern thrash band singing about zombies. But that would be a huge mistake, because F.K.Ü. totally rip! While they do sing almost entirely about 80/90’s horror films—and have a blast doing it—their music is no joke. What F.K.Ü. do better than any modern thrash band is capture the spirit of fun that made 80’s thrash so addictive. The songs are catchy as hell, but it's the clever lyrics that make F.K.Ü. stand out from the pack. The songs don’t just pay tribute to the movies they’re about—in a weird way, they actually make them better. As for this album? It is all hits. Check out ‘Black Hole Hell’, ‘Cannibal Detox’, ‘Esox Lucius’, and ‘112 Ocean Avenue’.
Sometimes a band just plain catches lightning in a jar-o. Evil Army’s self-titled album is a crossover masterpiece from start to finish, a blitz that doesn’t let up for its all-too-brief 24 minute run time. Evil Army sounds like it exploded from the band in a stream-of-consciousness fit of rage. Every lyric is spat with furious venom and the playing is so scrappy you imagine everyone in the band is about to be hurled from their instruments. Each song sounds laughably similar to the preceding track, which ought to be a knock on the album, except it all works flawlessly. Evil Army is one of those albums that when it ends, you just hit play again… and again.